An AIDS patient, a bloody soldiers uniform, a Mafia hit scene. For the past decade, Benetton has used graphic pictures to sell its sweaters and pants around the world.
Creative Director Oliviero Toscani developed the technique of shock and outrage, called shockvertising.
Toscani says ad companies buy so much space and waste it, when they could be using the power of communication for positive change. His idea is to tie the brand, Benetton, to strong statements about modern life.
And it has worked. The company has grown 20 times bigger since 1982, when Toscani joined the team.
But the ads have angered many. Sears canceled its contract with Benetton after families who had lost members to the profiled inmates complained that the ads glorified convicted killers.
Newsweek also canceled the ad campaign, which will run as a 96-page photography supplement in various trendy magazines starting this month.
The governor stops the death penalty in Illinois
The debate over Miranda rights
Scandal at the Los Angeles police department
NewsHour coverage of legal issues
Cornell Law School Death Penalty Project
PENALTY ON HOLD
The state of Illinois recently decided that there were too many innocent people on death row to continue executions.
Thirteen death row inmates have had their sentences overturned since the state passed the death penalty in 1977.
The governor of Illinois, George Ryan, said he still supports the death penalty, but he couldn't support a bad system that has come close to taking innocent lives. Death penalty opponents in the state hope that this is the first step toward stopping executions forever.
The controversial ads include interviews about the inmate's thoughts and dreams as they face death. They are designed to spark debate over the death penalty, and sell clothes (see story on left).
The Hurricane has further highlighted the debate by exploring the life story of boxer Rubin Carter, who was falsely sentenced to death.
The 38 states who still impose the death penalty are more and more relying on technology to prove their cases. DNA testing is 99% accurate. The DNA found in blood, hair, skin and saliva can often prove that a person is guilty, or in several of the Illinois cases, prove that a formerly convicted person didn't commit the crime.
One Illinois inmate's sentence was overturned just 48 hours before his scheduled execution because of DNA tests. Anthony Porter was found innocent after a college classroom project uncovered new evidence and had the verdict overturned.
But the governor's decision to halt death row executions in Illinois have met with protest. Victims' families say that justice is being put on hold, or even worse, denied. They argue that those rightly convicted of a crime should serve the issued sentence.
Currently, the death penalty is used in 38 states. The methods of execution include: the electric chair, lethal injection and the gas chamber.
Delaware, New Hampshire and Washington state allow hanging. Utah, Idaho and Oklahoma allow firing squad. The execution method of hanging and the firing squad was last used in January 1996. All except three states offer lethal injection as an alternative method of executions.
The death penalty has been an ongoing conversation in American politics for some time. At the beginning of U.S. history, the death penalty was rarely used. States issued the death sentence in treason cases.
By the 1930's the death penalty was at an all time high with more than 165 people killed each year. But the use of the death penalty was outlawed in the early 1970's. In 1976, the Supreme Court reversed their 1972 decision and reinstated the death penalty.
Since the 1976 Supreme Court decision more than 600 people have been executed and 85 persons have had their death row convictions overturned. 14 person are scheduled for execution in 2000.
Outside the U.S., more than 35 countries also use the death penalty.
Tell us what you think? Should the death penalty be abolished? Does DNA solve the problem of convicting innocent people? Are the Benetton ads too outrageous?
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